DURHAM – Route 136 in Durham is getting to be a busy place for road construction this summer.

In addition to the paving work currently under way, motorists now have to deal with a lane closure on the road that stretches for one-third of a mile north of the intersection with Snow Road.

The Maine Department of Transportation said that recent heavy rains, along with changes in the elevation of the Androscoggin River, which runs just alongside the road, which is also known as Royalsborough Road, have caused the embankment to deteriorate, forcing the lane closest to the river to be closed. The section of road affected by the closure is now controlled by temporary traffic lights, allowing alternating north and south traffic along the impacted area.

On July 24, representatives from the Maine Department of Transportation will be at the Durham Town Offices for a public meeting from 7-9 p.m. to discuss the project and answer questions and hear comments from the public.

While the section of road that is currently restricted to one lane is the most heavily impacted, the Maine Department of Transportation is watching two miles of road in the area for problems with embankment deterioration and has determined that a one-mile section of the road, heading north from Snow Road is in the most immediate need of repair.

According to a release from the Maine Department of Transportation, survey, environmental and geotechnical work, as well as highway design, are now under way.

This is the second time in two years that a section of Route 136 has had to be repaired due to embankment erosion. In June 2010, a section of the road about a mile-and-a-half south of the current project collapsed, forcing the road to be closed for some time while the road was redesigned and repaired.

While the Maine Department of Transportation is estimating that the project will cost $2.5 million, it recently got the news that some of the cost will be covered by money from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

On July 13, Sen. Susan Collins announced that the federal Department of Transportation has agreed to provide $500,000 in emergency federal highway money to help offset the cost of the project. The money comes from the Federal Emergency Relief Program, which helps states pay for the unusually heavy expenses for the repair and reconstruction of roads damaged by natural disaster or catastrophic failures.

“Unusually strong storms and downpours this year caused flooding that has posed tremendous challenges to transportation infrastructure all across our state,” said Collins. “This emergency funding will help the Maine Department of Transportation repair Route 136, which was especially hard hit.”

Motorists heading along Route 136 in Durham will have to deal with a lane closure north of the Snow Road intersection. The Maine Department of Transportation has installed temporary traffic lights to allow for alternating north-south traffic while one lane of the road is closed due to embankment erosion. (Staff photo by Mike Higgins)